Stacks is a blockchain ecosystem allowing smart contracts to be built on top of Bitcoin, and it’s becoming a thriving platform for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in gaming, collectibles, and art. But what does all of that even mean? Let’s get up to speed.
What are non-fungible tokens (NFTs)?
The growth of NFTs has been so incredible in the past year that the Collins dictionary named “NFT” the 2021 word of the year. Yet, oddly enough, NFTs are named after what they’re not — that is, fungible. A thing is “fungible” when it can be easily interchanged or replaced by a thing of the same type. For example, a dollar is fungible. If you have 4 dollar bills in your wallet, a merchant doesn’t care which bill you use to pay her because they each represent the same value.
The thing is that most things in life are non-fungible, that is, distinctive in some way. An airline ticket, for example, will likely specify this person, on this airline, on this flight, on this day and time, and in this seat. In fact, the airline’s specific goal is for such a ticket to be unique. And you might even refer to the unique ticket specifications as its “metadata.”
In the cryptocurrency world, NFTs are airline tickets on steroids. Due to the underlying blockchain technology, the metadata of an NFT is provably stamped in time, which makes following its history of ownership very easy. These characteristics are essential for collectibles and art, which have been the main driver of growth in the NFT world.
Why use Stacks for NFTs?
The immutability of the metadata is essential to the value of NFTs so the reliability and durability of the blockchain they rest on is absolutely crucial. And there is no blockchain that has been more reliable and secure over time than the Bitcoin blockchain.
In fact, NFTs originated on the Bitcoin blockchain when bitcoin was the one and only digital asset. But bitcoin’s scripting language was limited, so NFTs didn’t gain real traction in their more robust and flexible form until the more expressive smart contract language of Ethereum came along.
And that’s where Stacks comes in, with two innovations:
- Stacks supports a new smart contract language, Clarity, that is more readable and subject to fewer attack vectors than existing ones
- Every Stacks transaction is anchored in the Bitcoin blockchain
Potentially the best of both worlds. And with the launch of Stacks 2.0 in early 2021, a world of NFT on Bitcoin was unlocked: Birds, Apes, Monkies, Robots, Punks, Witches, Funky Donuts, and more – all continuing to be created and evolving.
Are Stacks NFTs expensive?
NFTs sure can be expensive. Last March, Beeple famously sold his Everydays: The First 5000 Days at a Christie’s auction for a whopping $69 million. Prior to that, the most he had ever sold a print for was $100. So sometimes it’s not just expensive to buy an NFT, but it can be very profitable to create and sell them as well. Case in point: 12-year old Nyla Hayes has made more than $6 million thanks to her NFT artwork.
Want a Stack-based MegaPont Ape? That will set you back anywhere from 2,800 to 1,000,000 STX.
If you’re more of a Bitcoin Monkey person, you can get a hold of this little guy for 363 STX.
But there are also artworks that sell for 1 STX or higher. Like almost everything, there’s a wide range of options that can fit your budget and interests.
Witches, Funky Donuts, or CityCoin race cars?
Maybe you’ll want to open a digital museum someday? One way to get started is to go to the sites we suggest at the end of this article and start buying existing NFTs. Connect your wallet, click, and indisputably own whatever you buy.
Another way is to start minting works yourself. One easy way to mint something is to find a collection you like that has some mintable NFTs remaining. As you can see below, there are 2140 unique witches remaining for you to summon into existence with your magic STX. Connect your wallet, click “Mint a Belle’s Witches,” and you will be the proud owner of a brand new and unique witch. And you can decide to hold it dear like a rare baseball card or to list it for sale on a marketplace.
And yes, even Funky Donuts.
Since the launch of MiamiCoin and NYCCoin on Stacks, people have also been buying CityCoin race cars for each city. In true crypto ethos, there are 420 unique cars in the collection and they each cost 69 STX. Cars will compete as part of a digital racing game. It really isn’t an overstatement to say that there’s something for everyone. 🏎
How to learn more
Whether you are an artist, a trader, or a collector, spending your time roaming around the various Stacks communities will be your best introduction to what’s out there. There’s no better way to dive in than by exploring some sites and communities. Here are three:
Wander around the museum-like swap meets. They each have marketplaces and FAQ sections. STX NFT has an interesting blog and a newsletter. And if you follow each of their twitter accounts, you’ll get information as it happens – often in Twitter’s quite colorful way. Of course if you find a community you really like and want to get even more involved in, they all have discord communities you can join and participate in.
In order to start playing around with Stacks NFTs, you will probably need a few STX. We’ve been long believers in the Stacks vision — that’s why we were the first crypto exchange to list STX, and remain the only in the world to list its two CityCoins projects, MiamiCoin and NYCCoin. We’re also the only one to allow our users to lock their STX to earn rewards in bitcoin.